Kamala Harris said America is experiencing an ‘epidemic of hate’ during her moving speech at the funeral of Ruth Whitfield, 86, the oldest victim of the Buffalo supermarket shooting on Saturday.
The vice president and her husband, Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, traveled to Buffalo, New York, where ten people were murdered by white supremacist Payton S. Gendron, 18, at Tops Friendly Market on May 14.
The visit came just one day before Joe Biden and First Lady Jill are set to fly to Uvalde, Texas, after the massacre of 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school, as the US is rocked by a seemingly non-stop wave of horrifying mass shootings.
On Saturday, hundreds of mourners gathered and embraced one another at Mount Olive Baptist Church in Buffalo, New York, to pay tribute to Ruth E. Whitfield, who was remembered as a ‘devoted and caring wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.
VP Harris, who was invited to speak at the memorial by the Reverend Sharpton, spoke of her grief for the community in yet another ‘senseless and horrific attack.’
‘I cannot even begin to express our collective pain as a nation for what you are feeling in such an extreme way to not only lose someone that you love, but through an act of extreme violence and hate,’ she said.
VP Kamala Harris speaking at the memorial service providing comfort to the Whitfield family and to those gathered to remember the loving 86-year-old mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and wife
VP Kamala Harris appearing solemn arriving at the memorial service of Ruth E. Whitfield. One of 10 people killed by a white supremacist at Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo on Mat 14, 2022
Ruth Whitfield daughter’s Angela Crawley (seated at bottom left) and Robin Harris, (seated bottom right) are greeted by mourners at Mount Olive Baptist Church
Harris addressed the mass shootings in Buffalo; Atlanta, Orlando, and the most recent that took place in Uvalde, Texas on Tuesday when 18-year-old Salvador Ramos went on a killing spree gunning down 19 children, and two teachers, at Robb Elementary School.
‘We will not allow small people to create fear in our community,’ she said. ‘We will not be afraid to stand up for what’s right, to speak truth even when it may be difficult to hear and speak.’
She told mourners that this ‘is a moment that requires all good people, all God-loving people to stand up and say: ‘We will not stand for this. Enough is enough!
She added: We will come together based on what we all know we have in common, and we will not let those people who are motivated by hate separate us or make us feel fear.’
Whitfield had been shopping at the supermarket after visiting her husband in the nursing home, her family has said, WIVB News reported.
Authorities said the gunman targeted that store because it was in a predominately Black neighborhood, CNN reported.
The Reverend Al Sharpton, Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown, New York City Mayor Eric Adams, and New York City Governor Kathy Hochul, were also in attendance, a report said.
The Buffalo Fire Department flew the American flag over Sheridan Avenue before the start of the service .
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris greets U.S. Senator Kirsten Gellibrand (D-NY) (pictured center) and New York Governor Kathy Hochul (pictured right) at Andrews Air Force Base
US Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff arrive to attend the funeral service for Ruth Whitfield at Mount Olive Baptist Church in Buffalo, New York
Whitfield, was one of ten people killed by a white supremacist in the May 14 shooting at Tops Friendly Market. Authorities say the gunman targeted the that particular store because it was in a predominately Black neighborhood, according to reports
President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden pay their respects at a makeshift memorial in Buffalo
The gunman was identified as 18-year-old Payton S. Gendron. Authorities said the day of the shooting Gendron drove more than 200 miles to mount his attack, which he also live streamed, police said
Days after the shooting Whitfield’s son Garnell Whitfield, a former Buffalo Fire Commissioner, described losing his mother, the family patriarch as if ‘somebody tore our heart outs,’ CNN reported.
‘Devastation, anger, hurt, disbelief, pain. She was the glue that held our family together,’ he said.
The gunman was identified as 18-year-old Payton S. Gendron of Conklin, a small town in New York’s rural Southern Tier.
Gendron had driven more than 200 miles to carry out his attack at Tops Family market, which he also livestreamed, police said, The New York Times reported.
He is charged with first-degree murder and is being held without bail. His attorney has entered a plea of not guilty on his behalf, Democrat & Chronicle reported.